USC, seeking to reduce major sanctions that could significantly hinder its football program, filed an appeal with the NCAA on Friday requesting that its Infractions Appeals Committee "overturn certain findings" and reduce other penalties.
The NCAA, after a four-year investigation that centered on former Trojans running back Reggie Bush and former basketball player O.J. Mayo, this month slapped USC with sanctions that included a two-year ban from bowl games and the loss of 30 football scholarships over three years. It also ordered victories vacated and put the Trojans on probation for four years.
USC will not fight the bowl ban for the 2010 season but is asking that the ban be reduced to one year and that the loss of scholarships be reduced to five per year over three years.
"The university recognizes that violations of NCAA rules did occur, especially involving impermissible benefits going to student-athletes as well as their friends and families, from unscrupulous sports agents and sports marketers," Todd Dickey, USC's senior vice president of administration, said in a statement on the school's website.
"And we take full responsibility for those violations given that they happened on our watch. However, we disagree with many of the findings in the report from the NCAA Committee on Infractions and assert that the penalties imposed are too severe for the violations identified and are inconsistent with precedent in similar cases."
The NCAA's appeals committee is scheduled to meet in late September and again in November.
"We are hopeful that the NCAA Infractions Appeals Committee will agree with our position on appeal, and reduce the penalties," Dickey said.
Recent history does not favor the Trojans. In January 2008, the NCAA changed a bylaw so that an appeal will be granted only if the school shows "the penalty is excessive such that it constitutes an abuse of discretion" by the infractions committee. Only one in 11 appeals has been successful since the change.
The NCAA has already moved to amend one component of the penalties. As part of the sanctions, the Trojans are forbidden from taking advantage of an exemption that allows teams to play an extra regular-season game if they travel to Hawaii. That put USC's Sept. 2 opener at Honolulu in jeopardy, but after appeals from both schools, the NCAA announced that the game could be played as scheduled.